Monroe-Woodbury runs away with title
The Crusaders scored an astounding 275 points to run away with the Section 9 championship by 99 points over second-place Minisink Valley. All 16 Monroe wrestlers placed, seven reached the finals, and three came out as champions including Evan Barczak (106), PJ Smoot (120), and AJ Voelker (170).
“Monroe dominated this tournament and me coming out on top makes it even better,” Voelker said. “I busted my butt throughout the summer and it all paid off, a lot of people didn’t think I could compete at a heavier weight but its all heart.”
One of the Crusaders who finished second was Vinny Vespa. The sophomore, who battled stage 4 lymphoma and returned with flying colors battled top-seeded Chris Cuccolo at 99 pounds, but dropped a tough decision.
“I’m going to wake up tomorrow and forget this and just get ready for states,” Vespa said. “I didn’t get to work on things over the summer like other wrestlers (because of cancer treatments), but I really wanted to win this.”
Voelker was obviously impressed with his teammate.
“Vinny was absolutely the inspiration for my season, he’s an unbelievable wrestler and unbelievable kid,” Voelker said. “He’s disappointed, but it’s unbelievable that he took second and everyone’s proud of him.”
Dylan Booth shocks everyone but himself
Port Jervis’ Dylan Booth isn’t exactly a household name, but he took his first step to making it happen when he defeated three-time Section 9 champion, John Stramiello of Pine Bush in the 113-pound final. Booth earned Most Outstanding Wrestler honors and the two juniors shared the award for the tournament’s Most Exciting Match in the finals.
Booth stayed on top of Stramiello for the full two minutes of the third period to ride out an incredible 3-0 victory. All three points were scored in the second period including a takedown of Stramiello with just five seconds left.
“I felt like I controlled the whole match,” Booth said. “I knew I could win if I wrestled my way. I was nervous beforehand (because of who he is), but I knew I was good enough to do this and I expected it.”
Connor Leavell remains steady
Warwick’s Connor Leavell is a defending Section 9 champion and proved his mettle once again with another victory in the final. Leavell scored the first points of the match in the second period before turning a take down into a pin at 4:34 over Saugerties’ Rob Cuomo.
“Hard work really pays off, I got a taste of it last year and it feels awesome,” Leavell said. “I could do this forever, I love winning.”
Leavell heads to the state tournament for the second year in a row now.
“I’m looking to battle for the highest place I can get, I want to get up to Albany and do my best,” Leavell said. “I’ve been working towards that all season and I have work done that has yet to pay off.”
Minisink performs well behind its favorites
In a regular year, Minisink would’ve been a threat to win the Section 9 title with its three champions and two finalists. The Warriors were happy with a strong second place finish, however. Top seeds Mike Raccioppi (126) and Josh Bonneau (220) both came away with expected victories, but Minisink Valley picked up a surprising victory from No. 7 seed Chris Truglio (132) who took home three tight decision victories including a 1-0 win over top seed AJ Aeberli in the final, and a 4-0 win over No. 2 Osman Hasan in the quarterfinals.
“Chris was my training partner all year,” Raccioppi said. “We pushed each other every day and almost got into fistfights but we made each other better.”
“He may not have been the best wrestler all year long, but he was the best wrestler at the end, I’m proud of him.”
Raccioppi who went to the state tournament last year and had a dominant Section 9 tournament this year. He recorded all four victories by pin and made a great case for Most Outstanding Wrestler.
“I hope to place as high as possible at states,” Raccioppi said. “I want to wrestle well and get a shot at TJ Fabian (the state’s top ranked wrestler from Long Island).”
Final team standings
1. Monroe-Woodbury 275.0
2. Minisink Valley 176.0
3. Newburgh Free 130.0
4. Warwick Valley 123.0
5. Middletown 122.0
6. Washingtonvill 119.5
7. Port Jervis 106.0
8. Wallkill 103.0
9. Saugerties 96.0
10. Cornwall 90.0
99- Chris Cuccolo (PB) dec. Vinny Vespa (MW), 10-5
106- Evan Barczak (MW) dec. Pedro Rosales, 11-5
113- Dylan Booth (PJ) dec. John Stramiello (PB), 3-0
120- PJ Smoot (MW) maj. dec. Damani Burns (NFA), 14-6
126- Michael Raccioppi pin Sean Foschini (NFA), 3:20
132- Chris Truglio (MV) dec. A.J. Aberli (WV), 1-0
138- Thomas Wightman (WV) dec. Brett Johnson (Cw), 4-0
145- Mark Milisci (Wash) dec. Frankie Hernandez (MV), 11-5
152- Dan DeCarlo (PJ) dec. Drake Barczak (MW), 7-3
160- Travis Edwards (PJ) dec. JP Vandercliff (MW), 7-0
170- AJ Voelker (MW) dec. Kyle McGuire (NFA), 9-3
182- Connor Leavelle (WV) pin Rob Cuomo (Saug), 4:34
195- Deon Edmond (King) maj. dec. Michael Byrne (MV), 14-3
220- Josh Bonneau (MV) dec. Rob Kelly (MW), 7-3
285- Terrance Cheeks (NFA) dec. Isaac Serrano (NFA), 3-0